On his 85th birthday, acclaimed crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his room with his throat slit. Just as authorities are about to dismiss the tragedy as suicide due to the lack of evidence to prove otherwise, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives at the scene to conduct his own investigation. Soon, it is revealed that all of Thrombey’s family have a reason to murder the family’s patriarch. Will Marta (Ana de Armas), the dead man’s caregiver and most trusted confidante, be able to help identify who the killer is?
Diandra says: Knives Out is a fun mystery film with a fantastic cast. There was never a dull moment. The director and writer of the film, Rian Johnson, was inspired by the works of Agatha Christie. Fans of her work should appreciate the execution of the storyline. Recommended for those who enjoy humor, mysteries, and dysfunctional families.
Diandra's Past Staff Picks
Sometimes I Lie
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: I'm in a coma; My husband doesn't love me anymore; sometimes I lie. Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can't move. She can't speak. She can't open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn't remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it's the truth?Donna says: Amber realizes she is in a hospital bed but is unable to move or speak. She can hear, and what she hears terrifies her. What she starts remembering frightens her even more. The title tells you what you need to know. Amber is an unreliable narrator and lies are being told. I recommend this book to readers who enjoyed The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.
Also available in: eBook
Donna's Past Staff Picks
The story of the love affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, and his abdication in order to marry the divorcée, has provoked fascination and discussion for decades. However, the full story of the couple's links with the German aristocracy and Hitler has until now remained untold. Drawing on FBI documents, material from the German and British Royal Archives, and the personal correspondence of Churchill, Truman, Eisenhower and the Windsors themselves, 17 Carnations reveals the whole fascinating story, throwing sharp new light on a dark chapter of history.
Elizabeth says: A meticulously researched look into one the most infamous romances of the last century. Morton attempts to sift through the rumors and conspiracy theories that surround Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII. Perfect for the Read More 2020 category "Secrets or Secrecy"
Also available in: eAudiobook
Elizabeth's Past Staff Picks
Leland Gaunt opens a new shop in Castle Rock called Needful Things. Anyone who enters his store finds the object of his or her lifelong dreams and desires: a prized baseball card, a healing amulet. In addition to a token payment, Gaunt requests that each person perform a little "deed," usually a seemingly innocent prank played on someone else from town. These practical jokes cascade out of control and soon the entire town is doing battle with itself. Only Sheriff Alan Pangborn suspects that Gaunt is behind the population's increasingly violent behavior.
Megan says: Needful Things is an amazing and epic tale that perfectly captures the quintessential essence of small town America. The large cast of characters are all so unique, perfectly fleshed out and entertaining. The plot may seem simple but it's far from it. The way King is able to concoct such a harrowing and complex tale of diabolical wickedness is astounding. It's a long tome but it's well worth the time and it goes by very quickly.
Also available in: eBook
Megan's Past Staff Picks
Tom Parker is obsessed with turning the sleepy seaside village of Sanditon into a fashionable health resort, enlisting the backing of local bigwig Lady Denham. Through a mishap, Tom makes the acquaintance of the Heywoods, wealthy farm owners in Willingden, and invites their eldest daughter, Charlotte, for an extended stay at Sanditon.
Nina says: If you follow historical drama at all, you‘ve heard the talk in the media, social and otherwise. Hardcore Janeites are mostly scandalized: “This adaptation is not in the ‘spirit of Jane!’” Granted, adult behavior is not simply alluded to as it is in Austen’s writing. But it is alluded to – Georgina’s near ruin by Wickham, adultery in Mansfield Park – which would have been titillating enough to her readership at the time. It’s also historically accurate that men in Austen’s time did not wear bathing suits like their Victorian grandsons would. But the more obvious displays are a minor part of eight hours of television. Sanditon is very much an Austen story for all the reasons we love her other works: the trappings of gender and social norms, exploration of human prejudices, and how much one’s economic status impacts one’s lot in life. Andrew Davies, the man behind the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice, decided to take the 11-chapter draft Austen was writing while terminally ill and expand the artistic and narrative vision. The visuals purposely use mild anachronism to underscore characterization. The story is meant to be more than one season. Whether we ever get that second season will depend on how well it does Stateside. But what we have of it is definitely worth watching, even more so for fans of Poldark, Outlander, The Favourite or Love & Friendship (based on Austen’s Lady Susan).
Nina's Past Staff Picks
Call Me American
Abdi Nor Iftin
Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop artists like Michael Jackson and watching films starring action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America was filled with twists and turns and a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi. Now a proud resident of Maine and on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin's dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.
Randall says: This stunning memoir recounts the incredible true story of Iftin’s escape from war-torn Somalia. Written with brutal honesty, Call Me American is as inspiring as it is educational. Recommended for Read More 2020: Immigrant Experiences.
Randall's Past Staff Picks
Jubilee tells the true story of Vyry, the child of an enslaved black woman and a plantation owner. Vyry bears witness to the South’s brutality, its wartime ruin, and the promises of Reconstruction. Weaving her own family’s oral history with thirty years of research, Margaret Walker’s novel brings the everyday experiences of enslaved people to light. Jubilee churns with the hunger, the hymns, the struggles, and the very breath of American history.
Swaneet says: There were a handful of books in college that I read far ahead of the syllabus because the book was just that good. Jubilee is one of them. And when Vyry's tale had come to a close, I could not stop talking about it, writing about it, and recommending it. This book is an all-time favorite of mine, and fits well into the 'Based on a True Story' category for Read More.
Swaneet's Past Staff Picks